While I was doing some research on places to visit in Gimpo 김포, I didn’t find a whole lot of information in English. That was pretty surprising to me given how close Gimpo is to Seoul. I assumed it would be a popular weekend getaway, but it seemed like most people just use it as a gateway to other tourist attractions because of the airport there. Then again, this was also my first time actually stopping and visiting Gimpo. I’ve always only just passed through it too.
TRAVEL ITINERARY: ONE DAY PLAN
1. Munsu Mountain (문수산) and Munsusanseong Fortress (문수산성)
2. Deokpojin Fort (덕포진)
3. Daemyung Port 대명항
Yesterday, I visited Gimpo by car and started the day at Munsu Mountain 문수산 which is the highest mountain in Gimpo. Its peak is just 376 meters high, so I thought it would be an easy hike, but it’s pretty steep and I had to stop and take a break midway and ate some kimbab and sandwiches. Luckily, the path going up had plenty of trees keeping me cool in their shade.
The mountain peak overlooks Seoul to the east and Incheon to the west, and you get a good view of both the Han River and the Yeomhagang River. After the initial steep climb, I spend a couple hours walking along the ridge of the mountain which was peaceful. This tree reminded me of something I would see in a 2000s Korean movie like in one of those scenes in My Sassy Girl or A Moment to Remember.
The main trail on the mountain is also connected to a fortress. The fortress on Munsusan Mountain was built in 1694 during the reign of King Sukjong 숙종, the 19th king of the Joseon Dynasty. The fortress walls were 6.1km long, but only 2km of it have been restored and about 4.6km remain. I saw a lot of construction going on, so it seems like the reconstruction is still currently underway.
The fortress was originally built to protect the nearby Ganghwado Island and today you can still see the north gate, south gate, south postern, and east postern. The fortress was also a stronghold during the Foreign Disturbance of 1866 (병인양요의 전쟁) which was a battle between French naval forces.
Admission Fee: free
Parking fee: 1,000 won per car
Average viewing time: 3-6 hours (depending on the course)
Contact Information: 031) 988-2965
Next I drove south to Deokpojin Fort which is the site of a military camp during the Joseon Dynasty used to fend off enemies heading towards Seoul. There is a small exhibition hall in Korean only, with some dioramas and explanations of the history of the site.
The camp was used in battles such as the French disturbance of 1866 and the American disturbance of 1871. The area was part of an excavation and there are lots of cannon foundations rebuilt here. Since Gimpo is so close to the North Korean post, there was also an army guard post here, but I was too scared to take a pictures. I thought I might get yelled at.
At the far end of Deokpojin 덕포진there is the tomb of Sohn Dol, a boatman from the Goryeo period. In 1231, King Gojong tried to flee to Ganghwa Island during a Mongolian invasion, and Sohn was the boatman in charge of taking him there. However, the currents were rough so the king suspected Sohn of trying to kill him. Sohn pleaded with the King to trust him and floated a gourd dipper on the water and said that if the boat followed the dipper, it would safely reach the island, but the King didn’t believe him and had him drowned. Later, the king did safely arrive at his destination and realized that he was wrong about Sohn and held a funeral for the boatman and had a temple built to console his spirit. The Gimpo Cultural Center hosts a memorial service on October 20th of the lunar calendar each year in remembrance of the anniversary of Sohn’s execution.
Deokpojin Fort Operating Hours: 24 hours?
Admission Fee: free
Parking fee: free
Average viewing time: 1 hour
Contact Information: 031) 989-9794
The Daemyung Port 대명항 is just a couple km south from there. There were a lot of ships docked there, and on the end of the main parking lot there was a marketplace that sold dried seafood and salted seafood, as well as a more general marketplace next to that one.